Depending on the terrain of the vineyard and the quality of wine which will be made from the grapes, there are different ways of harvesting. In a large, flat vineyard where the grapes are intended for ordinary quality wine, to be taken to the cave cooperative to be added to grapes from many other vineyards in the area, grape-picking machines are used to save time and labour. They look huge when you meet them on the road, as we often do at this time of the year because they travel from one vineyard to another during the vendange, towering above the cars. They look big among the vines too, because they have to straddle a row of vines to remove the grapes. In small parcelles of vines, especially on hillsides, it would be impossible to get a machine in among the rows, so these grapes are usually picked by hand, as are any grapes that will be used to make high-quality wine because this minimises the damage to the grapes before pressing.
We saw this machine near Fouzilhon the other morning as it was just about to start working its way through the vineyard.
Grape jelly – an experiment
We’d picked some Carignan grapes from vines which had re-grown after a friend had uprooted her vineyard. They weren’t very good for eating – the flesh had a nice flavour but they had too many pips and a strong flavour to the skins, so I thought I’d try making grape jelly. I put 500 gm of grapes in a pan, crushed them lightly with a wooden spoon and added a couple of tablespoonfuls of sugar to them. I brought them to the boil and cooked them for about 10 minutes then put them through a mouli legumes so that I was left with the juice. I returned the juice to the pan, added 250 gm of preserving sugar and simmered for 5 minutes. The jelly is now in small jars, but it has set very hard so I think I’ll try again with ordinary sugar rather than preserving sugar. There seems to be plenty of pectin in the pips and skins to set the jelly.
We bought mussels this morning from the usual Bouzigues van which calls in the village, and cooked them for lunch with sweet onion, rosemary, chopped piment d’Espelette, garlic and chorizo. They weren’t quite as tasty as when we cook them like this on the barbecue, but they still seemed to have a smoky flavour.
|I ground the remaining dried piments d’Espelette from last year, to store in a jar. The colour was wonderful, and the flavour will be too. These were bought in the village of Espelette. This year we have our own, grown from seed from these.|